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"Fireflies" by Yayoi Kusama. Photo by Jacob W. Roberts via Flickr.

Phoenix Art Museum Celebrates "Fireflies" Artist Kusama's Birthday

Written by Isabella Castillo Category: Visual Arts Issue: March 2017
Group Free

Yayoi Kusama. Photo courtesy CC BY 2.0, Vagner Carvalheiro via Flickr.Mark your calendars: This Wednesday, March 22, Yayoi Kusama – the Japanese artist renowned for her plethora of polka dots and infinity rooms – is turning 88 years old.

Kusama's "You Who Are Getting Obliterated in the Dancing Swarm of Fireflies" has been a permanent (and mega-popular) installation at the Phoenix Art Museum for a number of years, and it holds a special place in the hearts of visitors.

“This installation was the most memorable part of my first visit to Phoenix Art years ago,” museum employee Hannah Gur-Arie says. “I think it’s an experience that allows any type of person to relate to art in some capacity.”

To celebrate the artist behind the beloved 2005 piece, affectionately nicknamed “Fireflies,” Phoenix Art Museum will be hosting a birthday celebration tomorrow. Festivities begin at 3 p.m.

Activities will include a scavenger hunt, photo booth, birthday treats and a happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. At 3:30 p.m., local artist David Guerrero will guide guests in making their own Kusama-inspired pieces with LED lights. There will also be a pop-up library with information about Kusama, her work and her influences.

The exhibit that inspired it all is one of Kusama’s infinity rooms, a small, dark space lined from floor-to-ceiling with mirrors. Tiny pinpoints of pulsating light hang from above – casting an array of polka dot light, reflecting off every surface and creating the illusion of endless space, otherwise known as an infinity net.

After immigrating to the U.S. in 1957, the Japanese artist has spent years showcasing her paintings, sculptures and installations. Today, she has reached international recognition with her unique concepts and iconic look — an unforgettable red bob with bangs and an affinity for, what else?, polka dot dresses.